Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Rainy-Day Dreariness

Rainy-Day Dreariness

Commuting via public transit can be frustrating during inclement weather. Actually, commuting period is frustrating during inclement weather, because sometimes it seems to make people even less considerate.

For example, the storm drain at the NE corner of Pershing and DeBaliviere frequently backs up when there's any significant amount of rain. Westbound drivers on Pershing heading north on DeBaliviere often zoom through the massive puddle, which overtakes most of the right turn lane. Delivery truck drivers are the worst. They cause major splashing which frequently drenches folks waiting in the bus shelter on Pershing, which serves both the #93 Lindell and the WashU Gold Line.

Today I was lucky it wasn't raining that hard, really, so I just waited in the rain far away from the curb, practically in the Talayna's parking lot. It could be worse, of course, but one time I emailed MSD about this problem to no avail. They said I should call the emergency number; but this isn't an emergency, it's an ongoing back-up. It wouldn't be high priority since it doesn't impact any residential basements, for example. Nevertheless, it's quite annoying to get drenched like that.

Also, today as I rode MetroLink through the Mill Creek Valley railyards, I reflected on just how under-utilized that land really is. Does it really make sense to use land so close to downtown and to I-64/US 40 to store trailers? Alongside MetroLink all the way from the Jefferson viaduct to the Compton viaduct, Norfolk Southern and BNSF store trailers and shipping containers that will later be placed on freight trains. While these do need to be stored somewhere, and this strip of ground is pretty narrow so it would be hard to use for anything else, it is nevertheless striking just how much that impacts the view from MetroLink for suburban commuters and ballgame attendees.

Don't get me wrong - I love trains. I'm fascinated by the workings of railroads, so I like the little glimpse I get by riding MetroLink through the railyards. However, I question whether this is the highest-and-best-use of this property.

The proposals to restore Chouteau's Pond seem kind of hokey to me, but perhaps there are places where the air rights over the railyards could be used as areas in which to develop new office, retail, or residential spaces. This would help connect downtown with the neighborhoods to the south much more effectively.

For example, the distance between the Tucker viaduct and the 14th Street viaduct could certainly be spanned with a grid of steel and concrete (meeting seismic standards of course), and a high-density development constructed there, within a short walk of the Civic Center MetroLink station, the Robert A Young Federal building, Savvis Center, AmerenUE properties, and NestlePurina.

With property still relatively cheap in downtown St. Louis, this wouldn't make sense right now. But if momentum keeps building, perhaps a project like this would be feasible in 10 or 15 years.


Anonymous said...

Days like these make this fellow bus rider grateful for having scoped out in advance bus stops with shelters or even awnings, marquees and overhangs near stops.

Here's another tip. If you use more popular stops, where folks almost always wait in groups to board, you don't have to hang out so close to the curb, and risk getting drenched by inpolite motorists.

Joe said...

All good points. In this case, the stop on Pershing is indeed a very busy one when WashU classes are in session. Today being still winter break, nobody besides me was waiting there.

I usually find a stop with an awning or other covering, but that's not always possible. This particular set-up on Pershing is just frustrating; so often I go for the #58 on DeBaliviere next to the construction staging area, where there are three fully-enclosed bus shelters (for a few years they were even heated!) and little chance of being drenched.

But the #58 only comes every 30 minutes now; the Gold Line is every 15.

Claire Nowak-Boyd said...

Popular stops can also be troublesome. I often wait at the busy shelter at 9th and Locust Downtown, and recently when I stepped back in an effort to not get drenched, because so many busses roar through the stop, the driver just took my gesture to be the frequent "This is not my bus." gesture, and drove right past!